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What Were The Pound Puppies?
If you haven’t heard of the Pound Puppies, think of the Cabbage Patch Kids of toy dogs. The Pound Puppies had their own unique look compared to other plush dogs.
They came in a variety of colors such as brown, gray, white, and some with spots. I think the first thing that sets them apart is their unique packaging. They were a good alternative for kids who wanted a bigger puppy. Kind of.
The pound puppies were said to have had their shots and you could give them a bath.
The cardboard case that came with the Pound Puppy was shaped like a dog house. I wonder if they borrowed the idea of the adoption paper from the Cabbage Patch Kids.
This was a brilliant idea to take advantage of the huge success of something but not completely rip it off. You are not just about giant metal trucks.
Creating The Pound Puppies
The Pound Puppies were created by a guy named Mike Bowling who was not a toy inventor or had any connection to toy companies. He worked in a Ford factory. He bought his daughter a doll in 1983 and she took it with her wherever she went. He thought about coming up with his own toy after seeing the impact this toy was having on his daughter.
Mike started to think about an automated production of a toy after working on an assembly line. Something that could be carried around by kids everywhere.
The Pound Puppies were a crude prototype that he would stuff with pellets. I am not saying he shot them, but used the pellets as a substitute. The crate to carry the puppies with and the adoption papers were all ideas that came from the beginning.
Bowling did not know about the toy industry. He owned the intellectual property and copyrighted the name. This was a good move. He put together a prototype and started shopping it around.
Fourteen different companies turned it down.
How The Video Game Crash Brought Us Pound Puppies
The video game industry went from making billions of dollars a year to less than 100 million in a short period of time. Atari was the top dog. Everyone wanted to be on board with them.
Toy companies were burned by getting involved in video games and then seeing it all blow up in their faces. Nintendo hadn’t swooped in to save the day yet so these companies were looking at something else to recover
A Canadian toy company contacted bowling after it stuck with it. He was looking for low-risk opportunities with simple toys because he was screwed over by Atari. That was a good opportunity for pound puppies.
I am proud of my homeland for being at the start of some successful toy franchises when it comes to Pound Puppies. This would happen with Jenga as well.
When the pound puppies were released in 1984 they were a huge hit here. They offered more than your average stuffed animal as they had some personality to them. There was a sense of ownership for small kids with the adoption certificate.
It was time to bring them south since they worked in the north.
The Pound Puppies TV Special
There was a Pound Puppies TV special. The show was used to see how people would respond to a cartoon version of the toys.
The difference between Pound Puppies and other toys is that they had no back story. The way toys were sold in the ‘80’s was to put out a cartoon series and build up the back story, characters, and mythology. The sales of toys were driven by the shows.
It’s rare for pound puppies to do things the other way. They tested to see if people would be interested in a cartoon after introducing the toys.
The film came out on October 26th, 1985 and was around 36 minutes long. A puppy named Violet comes from a wealthy family in the plot. She is picked up and taken to the pound after being pursued by dognappers. There is a group of puppies who are looking for homes of their own. The rest of the film focuses on her getting back with her owners. There is aspoiler alert.
There are some pretty big time voices in this film.
Frank Welker is known as Megatron. June Foray was the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She was a villain in Cinderella. Is anyone aware of this? I think Dan Gilvezan did. The Spiderman is with his friends. The cartoon from 1981 and the movie Transformers. The name of the person is Horshack on Welcome. Back. Kotter and Jonathan Winters are related. Sorrell Booke is last. The Dukes of Hazzard had a boss named Hogg.
Yowza. What a lineup. Don’t take my word for it, you can watch it from a sweet VHS rip on the internet.
The ACTUAL Pound Puppies Film
Do you remember this? I didn’t know this existed until I researched it. In 1988 it was called Pound Puppies Legend of Big Paw. It was produced by TriStar Pictures in order to promote the toy line. Tonka financed it with a bunch of musical numbers. It was set in the late 1950s and followed a Sword in the Stone/Excalibur theme.
Arthur and his dog are with the Bone of Scone. We probably don’t have to discuss this much more.
They spent 2 12 months putting together the background and layout after pounding this thing out for 5 12 months. The animation was done in 3 months. This is also pre-CGI. That is a very rushed job.
The look of the movie did not follow that of the cartoon show. It took a beating from the critics because there was no continuity. The plot was dull and lifeless and the animation looked poor. Some of the music was praised.
The movie didn’t do well and had a short run in theaters. The interest in Pound Puppies was not there and it ended up playing in matinees. It only made $586,938 by the end of it’s run.
The last of the movies from the ‘80s that featured established toy properties as the main characters would be this one.